Friday, August 8, 2008

A Mile Per Pizza Slice

Last night my enthusiasm for Pagliacci's Verde Primo (hold the mozzarella but leave the little sprinkles of goat cheese; they're hardly dairy, right?) got the better of me and before I knew what had happened I ate SIX slices of artichoke & pesto-y goodness. Now, I'm a girl who can eat, but six slices of pizza may is a tiny bit excessive, even by my warped standards. So this morning after a nice healthy breakfast (of, um, left over cold pizza) I went for a run and vowed a mile for each of those six slices! Wahoo, it's a 10K day!

As I ran up and around and down and back and forth in my fair town I thought a lot about Hesper, my old workout buddy and in many regards my fitness inspiration. She is trapped in Middle-of-Nowhere Texas and does not get to run next to views of the ferry and Sound and competitive Old Lady Rose Gardens like this:



Or this:


Or this:


Thinking about Hesper and the 108 degree weather and cottonmouth water moccasins she deals with on her runs helps to remind me not to take for granted what I have: a gorgeous, temperate seaside town; a body that usually listens to me when I tell it to MOVE!; the time to go for runs that might take 90 minutes or more; and a complete lack of poisonous snakes anywhere near my running routes. These are all tremendous blessings, and when I focus on them it's harder to hate running, or feel grumbley about how it's my weak leg in triathlon.

Another nice thing I got to think about on my 70 minute long run is that Hesper is coming back to town for the Danskin Tri, and so much fitness and beer based merriment will ensue in just six days! Wahoo!

Well just over 10K took me to the door of my gym, where I made up yesterday's Crossfit WOD:

Thursday 08080
"Karen" for time:

150 Wallball shots, 20 pound ball

Blessedly, my gym does not have a 20 pound Dynamax ball, so I did this WOD with a 10 pounder. It was hard. Like, my heart monitor screamed at me the entire time cause, at 177 bpm, I was way outside of my aerobic training range. But Crossfit's not about your "Aerobic Training Range." It's about going until you puke, then going more. I didn't quite get that intense today, but I gave it a good effort and got a time of 10:52. I broke it down into 5 sets of 30, but by set 2 we were well into 10 and 5 rep sub-sets. At the end I collapsed on the floor and walked (no running! none!) home.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

1.5 Mile Open Water - New PR Swim!

Met my mom (who is basically a mermaid she's such a good swimmer) and we drove up to Lake Goodwin for a little open water swimming practice. After checking out a few swimming options on the lake (a friends dock, a community swimming area and park, and Wenberg State Park's swimming area) we settled on a lovely and jet-ski free roped off swimming area at Wenberg.


Here's the view of the swimming area from up above in the picnic area. This was after our swim, when it got crowded, so you can imagine how nice it was earlier, when we had the water practically to ourselves.

Lake Goodwin is gorgeous, with beautiful clean water with a sand and river-rock bottom. The Wenberg swimming area was great too, with a buoy line separating the shallow wading area from the deeper swimming area. If you look at the sat pic of our route you can see the swim lines and the deeper-water area. My mom swam laps on the shallower, warmer inside line (about 75 yards from one end to the other), and I ran a loop of the perimeter (200 meters, give or take).

There was nary a duck in sight (I say "no thanks," to swimmer's itch) but I did see several dragonflies and butterflies, so nature was definitely playing nice. When we first arrived, at around 11, there were several families and quite a few kids hanging out on the log-booms and off the buoy lines of the swimming area, but everyone was really cool and well behaved and the deeper water section of the swimming area was basically deserted. An hour later, when I wrapped up, quite a few more people had entered the deeper water area and I had to avoid more random legs and arms, but it still wasn't unpleasantly crowded.

I did 12 laps total, for a swim of about 1.58 miles according to mapmyrun.com. My mom went about 3/4 miles before calling it a day.

All in all, maybe the most pleasant open water swim I've yet done. The water was so clean and calm, and the loop was simple enough that I felt like I could focus on my form within the open water context. I did catch myself falling into back-quadrant swimming and windmilling a few times, but in general I think I did a pretty good job of catching-up, pulling with a high elbow, and executing a full-body rotation. I found that when I thought of my stroke as a way to propel my body into a skate position instead of a push back against the water I achieved a nice balance of fluid propulsion without shoulder and arm weariness.

I also worked on keeping eyes (and head) up so that my gaze was right around my extended hand. This really helped when it came time to breathe and sight and (especially) sight-breathe. The last thing I focused on was keeping my extended arm extended until the recovering arm got to the catch-up position on a breathing cycle. It's always been harder for me to keep balance while breathing, and my extended arm tends to drop too early because of this. The drop means that cycle turns into a windmill stroke instead of a high-elbow anchoring/pull stroke. I'm still working on it, but it's way easier in a wetsuit (isn't everything?).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why the HELL do I do this?

Today's Crossfit WOD:
Do pull-ups until your hands look like this:



Ok, actual WOD for Wednesday 080806

45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, left arm, 21 reps
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, right arm, 21 reps
42 Pull-ups
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, left arm, 15 reps
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, right arm, 15 reps
30 Pull-ups
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, left arm, 9 reps
45 pound Dumbbell squat snatch, right arm, 9 reps
18 Pull-ups

Scaled to 20# on the snatches; went to band assisted pull ups by the last round. Hands hurt so bad. Didn't time it. It took roughly forever (somewhere in the 45 minute range), mostly due to the fact that I had to talk myself into grabbing the bar after I dropped on every third pull-up. At one point I even told myself that I'd been through labor, so I could get through just three more pull-ups. Then 3 more, then 3 more.... The frustrating thing is, it isn't the muscle aspect of the pull-ups (at least if we're talking kips; strict is another story). My back is fine, arms are fine: it's my grip and (for this workout) the literally blistering pain in my hands. Towards the end of the second round, the CF'ing trainer at my gym vertical taped my hands...that's prob the only reason I didn't DNF the pull-ups.

Urg. I feel lame.

Homemade, No-Bake Energy Bars

So my kiddo wanted to make cookies, but it was FAR too hot to turn on the oven if I wasn't getting paid for it. Besides, what she really wanted was to eat cookies, and I'm not all about the eating of cookies for entertainment purposes. So we broke out the food processor and all the random bags of dried fruit from Costco that I am compelled to buy, and we just went crazy, blending things up until we had a bowl of homemade energy bar-stuff.



When we were done, adding and adjusting a bit at a time, we had two recipes that were quick, cheap (well, cheaper than $1.50 commercial bars anyway), shelf stable and pretty tasty. These are definitely high-fiber, low protein, though, so if you are not accustomed to a--ahem--high fiber diet you might not want to eat a whole lot of them at once.

Here's the recipes:

Chocolate Cherry No-Bake Energy Bars
10 oz. dried plums
5 oz. dried cherries
6 oz. whole uncooked oats
4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. Nutella

Apri-Coco No-Bake Energy Bars
10 oz. dried apricots
6 oz. dried plums
6 oz. whole uncooked oats
4 oz. shredded, unsweetened coconut
2 oz. almond butter

For either recipe: process ingredients in a food processor to a uniform puree. It will be very thick. When mixture forms a ball, it is probably ready. Press mixture into a sheetpan and smooth to make the mixture as uniform in thickness as possible. Slice into 2 oz. bars (I got about 16 bars out of each recipe) and wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hit It.

Run 3 miles (30 minutes).
Felt great with this run. Really focused on Pose form and keeping my pace up. I told myself I'd really go for 15 minutes, and the pace felt so quick for those 15 minutes. Feels like maybe there is a way to push my min/mile average up: next time I will pace run for 17 minutes, and just keep increasing.

Then, once I ran the circuitous 5K route to the gym, I did my workout:

Pull-ups 3 x 6 (just cause I need to work on pull-ups)

Crossfit WOD: Back Squats 5 x 5
Bar x 10 WU
85 x 5
95 x 5
115 x 5
135 x 5
145 - failed
145 x 3 & Called it good.

Pull-ups 3 x 8 (8 pull-ups! PR! PR! Yeah!)

So, while I'm super happy about getting 8 pull-ups before my grip gave out on me, I think these squats were rather pathetic. I weigh 155, so there is no excuse for failing on a 145# lift. Yes, squats are hard, but I can't help feeling like maybe there is a form defect in my lifting that becomes a problem under weight. Must work on this. I'm thinking about coughing up the cash and going to Rip's Basic Barbell Cert next time it's around Seattle....I want to learn perfect form on the Oly lifts and I'm beginning to realize that expert instruction is probably the only really effective way to do that. I keep nagging the trainer at the gym who is into Crossfit to schedule me for some one-on-one, but so far he's not putting me in his appointment book.

After the squats, I ran/walked home (12 minutes, mostly walking, mostly uphill).

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hit It.

AM: Crossfit WOD for Sunday 080803 (done a day late)
"Griff"

For time:
Run 800 meters
Run 400 meters backwards
Run 800 meters
Run 400 meters backwards

This was fun! Forgot my watch; would guess somewhere in the 14 minute range. Put on my track shoes and felt great, when I was going backwards. Forwards hurt...but this is a good thing for my pace improvement plan. Is it wrong to love running backwards? I much preferred the backwards sections...nice adrenaline rush from the constant fear of falling...

PM: Spin Class (45 minute, moderate intensity).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hit It.

Crossfit WOD, as Rx:

Row 1000 meters
85 pound Thruster, 21 reps
15 Pull-ups

Row 750 meters
85 pound Thruster, 18 reps
12 Pull-ups

Row 500 meters
85 pound Thruster, 15 reps
9 Pull-ups

Rest 2 minutes between each round. Time each round separately and post times to comments.

As actually done:
45# thrusters; all other as rx

1st Round: 7:41
2nd Round: 7:00
3rd Round: 5:11 (last three pullups were ugly)

Per usual, pull-ups killed me...all sets required breaking into 3 sub-sets on the pull-ups. But all in all this was fun. I like thrusters, and when I said "Hip Snap" to myself as I went into each thruster, I found the bar felt much lighter.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The North 40 (Edmonds - Everett on the Interurban)

Today Nick took advantage of his company's support for "work-life balance" and took the day off to just hang out. After some deliberation as to how he wanted to spend his day off, he opted to go for a long-ish bike ride. Worked for me! So, we put our kiddo in full-day summer camp and planned a route.

Coming up with a good route when we had hours of uninterrupted and child-free biking time was a bit daunting. We knew we would do better with a destination (our spontaneous ride around Edmonds a few days before had become a frustrating exercise in hill repeats--fine for my training but not exactly the bonding ride Nick, who loathes hills even more than I, was looking for). Nick set the awesome goal of riding directly from our house, not driving to a trailhead (don't laugh, serious cyclists - this is new to us). But I'm skiddish in high-traffic or low-shoulder areas, so that somewhat limited our route-options. In the end, we decided that we had both been curious about the Interurban Trail for some time, and it seemed like a reasonable ride from our house to the trail, so Nick printed out some maps and we got ready.

It turns out that not only is the ride from our house to the Interurban ridiculously quick, it's also very low on the intimidation factor. A steep but short hill got us to a decent bike lane that runs generally uphill (every road around our house runs generally uphill, since we live not too far above sea level). We followed the bike lane for awhile, turned along a few low-traffic side streets, dismounted to cross hywy 99 and then --voila!--we were at the entrance to the Interurban.

The first chunk was a bit stop-and-go, with lots of "Dismount and Walk Bikes" signs that we basically obeyed, and before we knew it, we had popped out in Lynnwood, near the 44th Street entrance to I-5. At this point the trail just went to hell. Or more accurately, disappeared into the type of on-road, heavy-traffic, no-shoulder riding I set out to avoid. I guess if I were a stronger rider and more comfortable with traffic, we could have just ridden along on street for a block of white knuckled terror, but instead we dismounted and walked along the sidewalk. I hope that there is a rerouting planned for this area of the trail. It's the only part along the whole route from Edmonds to Everett that really sucked.

Once we got back on the trail things really picked up, and we entered a fast downhill stretch that took us behind the Alderwood Mall and right to the doorstep of Gregg's Alderwood. I have never really appreciated how brilliantly positioned Gregg's is until now. It was so easy to run in, grab a Clif Bar, some Shot Blocks and a new pair of gloves (my 2 week old cut-off gloves had stretched out, so Nick got them, and I bought a pair in a smaller size) and get back on the trail. Genius!

From Alderwood to the Everett mall was mostly trail; with some on-road bike paths through Mill Creek. Everything was well signed, though Nick and I did get lost at one point when we simply refused to believe that the reconnecting trail shared an entrance with the freeway. We should have believed: along 128th the trail turns west (along the sidewalk) until you are inches from riding (or walking) straight into a freeway on-ramp. It was a bit disconcerting, but once we were back on the trail it was actually quite nice, running along I-5 for awhile before looping up and over the freeway, then pushing flat and uninterrupted for quite awhile.

During one of these long, gentle downhill straights I decided to get down into my tri bars (clip on do-hickies) and practice tri handling. Now, I've had these tri bars for about 3 weeks, and have spent about 9 minutes using them, so I have no illusions as to my handling ability while tucked down. Still, one has to start sometime, and a wide open straight-away seemed like a good place. So I tucked down and pretty quickly got up to about 28 mph (slight downhill, remember). At this speed, my eyes started to get really really dry and I realized my cycling glasses were handing from the collar of my jersey, where they had been since a water stop some miles back. What can I say, I was going really fast (for me) and I had this vision of road debris blinding me forever, so I panicked a bit and came up too quickly, reaching for my glasses at the same time. Big mistake. What happened next was like a terrifying, slo-mo impression of Weebles: I weebled, I wobbled, but I did not fall down. It was a big wobble, taking me perilously close to the drainage ditch on one side of the trail and back to the center line. I was unstable for long enough to think, "Well, this is it. I'm going to crash. I'm definitely going down, and I still don't have my glasses on." Somehow, miraculously, I did not crash. Thinking of it later, the only thing that kept me upright was my speed. I am positive that, had I been going a bit slower, I would have been on the pavement. The strange property of a bicycle to be more stable at higher speeds saved me, more than any jedi-like reflexes I possess.

Nonetheless, it shook me up (and Nick behind me, who's irritation with my zippity-go-wheee speed bender became terror that he would be scraping me off the trail with a spoon) and I continued on for the next portion of the trail in a fully upright and decidedly un-aero position.

The trail past the Everett mall moved more onto on-road bike paths, and at one point we missed a turn and had to cut back and around to get back on the trail. The trail was also interrupted with surprising frequency by these horrid gates that look like giant robot arms. The gates don't allow you to simply ride through some bollards. Instead you have to zig-zag through an opening that's almost big enough for a bike to chicane comfortably through. Almost. I got through the giant robot arms unscathed, but definitely had to put my foot down a few times to avoid ramming the far gate arm. Maybe there's a technique I don't know, because at one point a more advanced looking cyclist passed me and went through the gates just ahead of me. It appeared that he just breezed through the gates, totally clipped in and nonplussed by the whole giant-steel-bar in front of me thing.

We got the the trail end and it seemed to just....well....end. Perhaps there is more trail to explore further on, after some Everett road-riding. We didn't push on to find out, since it was about turn-around time anyway and we couldn't be late to pick up our kiddo.

The way back was into the wind and more uphill than down, and Nick was tired. He was hurting pretty bad through some of the more uphill stretches, but he powered through like a trouper. We rode pretty slow on the way back, but it was nice to be able to just chat and ride together.

All in all, I liked the trail a lot: it was mostly flat with rolling hills and a few short (and not too insane) climbs. Signage was good, but not perfect, and the road quality was very good-wide and mostly smooth, though frequently interrupted at beginning and end. The trail was as scenic as you might expect for a trail that basically follows I-5. A feeling of supreme utility made up for the lack of overwhelming natural beauty. It had a functionality I really liked, like this was the path you use to get places you actually need to go, and in that way it put ideas into our head about becoming less reliant on the car and adjusting commute patterns to incorporate some biking. Which is not to say that the trail was ugly: parts of it were quite lovely, with wooded areas and greenbelts alongside. I saw a one hawk swooping down from the trees South of Everett, and I couldn't count the dragonflies I saw zipping along.

Here's a map to the route we did. For more info on the Interurban in Snohomish County, check out this page. Total distance was just about 40 miles, at a very easy pace (about 11 miles/hr on average-on bike pace probably slightly higher because we did stop several times and walked our rides on multiple occations). Feel very good post ride.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mary Meyer Brick Workout

Went with D to the MM Swim/Bike Brick. Freaking Seattle summer...it poured the whole day. It's hours until August; why is the ground all wet and slippery when there's bike riding to do? Don't those rain clouds understand I have training to get to?

Anyway, all ranting aside, this was a great workout. We did an out-and-back swim that totaled at 1 mile. We paused (but not for too long) at the 1/4 mile out-bound buoy to let the group collect, at which point Rocky (fearless, fat-free, very tan Ironman triathlete) pointed at me and said "You'll lead the group to the 1/2 mile buoy and I'll bring up the rear." D and I arrived first to the 1/4 mile buoy and I'm sure of the two of us I was picked because I was wearing a wetsuit and my super cool pink pirate swim cap while D was wearing her sad ol' swim suit. (D is of course a stronger swimmer than I, so I consider this further proof that if you are willing to spend the money in tri, you can buy a look of proficiency beyond your actual skill set.)

I am, no joke, a piss poor sighter. I'm really working on it, but I'm not there yet, and Danielle knows this. Bobbing around, 1/4 mile from land, D and I both started laughing at the prospect of my zig-zag approach to open water swimming leading a group anywhere. Mercifully, D did not blurt out my failings, but tidily took the lead a few yards into the second leg. So I got to work on my sighting, but without the pressure of being the lead dog.

As it turns out, a lot of people had trouble sighting on the second buoy. I was getting very discouraged. It felt like that damn little white think off in the distance wasn't getting any bigger. Seriously, no exaggeration, I felt like maybe by the time we reached the buoy we might be in Kenmore. After my concerns started nagging me I started sighting more frequently, and at one pint Rocky (fearless leader) pulled up alongside and said: "Where is that buoy?" I pointed it out and said, "It's there, straight ahead, but I swear it's not getting any bigger." "Just keep focusing on your form," he said, " and it will be here before you know it."

We swam a bit more and then D stopped and turned back at me: "I can't find the buoy." It's right there, I said, pointing at the distant white thing that still seemed interminably far away. "I still don't see it," said D. At this point Rocky came swimming up. "There it is!" he said, "You made it!" pointing at the buoy. The buoy he was pointing at was probably 5 yards away. It was a buoy I hadn't seen the entire swim. As it turns out, I had been sighting on a very large white building located on the opposite shore several miles away. No wonder it never seemed to be getting any closer!

I just had to laugh. It's really a miracle I didn't swim in a circle. Nonetheless, I do believe I was heading relatively straight towards that building the entire time. After regrouping at the 1/2 mile mark, we headed off back to shore, and I got so distracted working on stroke mechanics "catch-up; high-elbow/catch-up; high-elbow" that I sighted to the far side of the swimming area, not the little cove around the corner where we were actually exiting. So I lost a bit of time on the exit, but was more or less on pace with D. She had the good sense to wear a watch, so I know we were at about 16:30 for each 1/2 mile split. 33 minute mile in open water - not too bad.

We only had about 15 minutes once we got out of the water and onto our bikes, so we did hill repeats. My bike was soaking wet, but luckily the rain had stopped for a while. We did three moderate hill climbs, staying in the saddle the whole ride but gearing down (or is it up? whichever way makes it harder to push the peddles) on each repeat and attempting to maintain our original cadence. Something clicked on this and I felt good. I started off towards the back, but by the end of the third repeat I had lapped several people. Must have been that work with Ian - hill shock therapy!

All in all, a great workout!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Long (Long) Run

Well, I woke up this morning highly aware that D has been kicking my ass in training lately. (I've been sick, but my pride didn't catch anything, and hasn't been resting like the rest of me). Anyway, she's been a total inspiration and I decided today I needed to get on my running, which is definitely the weak link in my tri performance. I'm a solid 30-minute 5K girl, and my aversion to running hasn't done much to improve that time. So I decided to do a nice long run today. I was thinking of running from my daughters school to the gym (just shy of 4 miles), doing the crossfit WOD and running back.

So I checked in at the Crossfit Main Site and what could the WOD be? Oh, a nice easy 15K run. Uh, yeah, that's just shy of 9.5 miles, and about 4 miles longer than anything I've done before. But I decide this fairly unusual WOD is a sign from the fitness gods that I need a good, solid, self-inflicted ass whuppin'. So I drop my kiddo off at school, leave my car at her school (I know I have to be back to pick her up in three hours, and being carless basically guarantees that I will finish the miles, taxi's being few and far between in my town) and head out.

Before I left to drop my daughter off, I'd jotted off a quick route on mapmyrun.com that came in at 10 miles/16.1 K. I couldn't figure out a clean way to shave 1 K off the map, and needed to get going, so I took a long look at the map (didn't print it) and went with what I had.

The first 2 miles felt good. I was really working on my Pose running technique, and during a few of the earlier, gentle downhills I really connected with what it should feel like (feet just moving up and down; no particular work to make forward momentum happen). I kept consciously engaging my transversus abdominis and rolling my shoulders back and down. When I did this I felt like it was a lot easier to get a proper lean from the ankle, which felt like a leading with the chest more than a lean, but certainly made it easier to keep momentum going and foot striking under my center of gravity.

At around mile 1 I started making a plan for walking breaks. I planned on a one minute walk break for every 10 minutes of running, and kept this going for more or less the first 4 miles. At mile five, the walk breaks became more frequent, but I was back in more familiar territory. I had the Gu I brought, which seemed to help, but my renewed pep was thwarted when a very cute, small white dog started following me.

The dog was clearly well taken care of, but a quick glance at his collar revealed him to be about 5 blocks from home. Well, maybe I was just looking for an excuse to take a break, but the next 25 minutes was me wandering around this neighborhood, 20# dog in arms, looking for his house. After a consult with a neighbor, I was eventually pointed to the the right house, and returned the dog back to his not-quite-as-grateful-as-I-hoped neighbor. This caused me to change my route slightly, but after a 25 minute rest (walking up and down hills holding a dog was my rest) I was back on target, and quickly reconnected with my planned route.

Mile 6 was a flat chunk of road I run fairly regularly, so it felt really good, but mile 7 turned straight vertical and stayed that way for about 1.5 miles. I got a brief flat reprieve at around mile 8.5, but by mile 9 the hills were back. The last couple miles were a total mix: on the bad side, lots of breaks that happened because my body just...stopped...for...a...minute, and an unexpected hill at the end that made me curse quite loudly and fight back a tear, but I plodded up it in slo-mo. On the good side, I told myself to finish strong and I did, kicking it up to a respectable clip for the last .5 mile.

So I finished. My clock time was 2:33, which is approximately an hour longer than I'd like, but when you factor out the 25 minute dog return and factor in that I ended up doing 11.38 miles (18.31 K), I figure my actual run time is closer to 130 minute, or about 11.5 minutes per mile. By the way, how did I end up putting in that extra 3K, you might wonder? Well, I made an unplanned turn early in my run when I felt all fresh and shit, and ended up connecting up with one of my cross streets further down the road than I'd planned. That added some distance, as did the adjustment I made to my route do to the doggy-go-round. So when I re-drew my route after I got home, I was shocked to discover I worked a bit harder than I needed to.

All things considered, I don't feel too bad for this one. I'm tired, but not dead, and I definitely think I did the right thing taking it slow with the pace. Those knee joints don't just grow on trees, ya know. And I really don't want a repeat of "Erica goes too hard and makes herself sick." More like, "Erica goes just hard enough to make herself a better runner." Now speed work will come with intervals! Ha! Get some, go again!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Playing Catch-Up

It's been less than fun this past 8 or 9 days. After a bike ride that kicked my butt, I took several days off of hard training, and have been just easing back into stuff.

Here's how last week has looked:
Monday: recovery day from bike ride; promptly got sick
Tuesday: sick
Wednesday: Crossfit WOD (push jerk); sick
Thursday: sick
Friday: Crossfit Personal Training Session (~60 minutes of swings, deadlifts & presses); still sick. Had to pause mid-way through an 8 min max round WOD, and the trainer must have thought I was going to pass out, because he switched out my 35# kettlebell for a 24#er when I wasn't looking. I think the 4 days of minimal eating really caught up with me as soon as I attempted exertion for any sustained amount of time.
Sat: sick; but starting to feel better. Ate today.
Sun: Swim Clinic (60 minute). Felt better after clinic; decided the time was right to start easing back into my training.
Mon: When I say easing back, I mean easy, damnit. Did a ~30 min bike ride (some hill work) + 90 minute walk
Tuesday (today): 1 mile open water swim in the heaviest swells I've ever dealt with. Did 125 yd repeats, building like this: 125; 125; 250; 250; 375; 125; 250 + several back and forths for sighting drills that added at least another 100 yds. Total = 1600

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hit It.

Did Crossfit WOD for Tuesday 080722

Push jerk 3-3-3-3-3 reps

Post loads to comments.

Warmed up with 8 reps @ bar
65 x 3
75 x 3
85 x 3
95 x 3
105 x 2 (failed at rep 3)
105 x 3
110 x 1
110 x 1
110 x 1

I think I really am getting sick. On Monday I thought I was just whipped from the bike ride, but now I think I've got a low grade flu. I'm having really bad stomach pain and heartburn, I don't want to eat and when I do food tastes weird. Weird. I'm just trying to rest so I can get back on the program asap. I hate unplanned tapering. :(

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fit at Thirty

If you've noticed a few more posts than usual today, it's because my ambition to keep up with super-biker Ian yesterday has led to super-recovery day for me.

So a bit of background: Ian and I have known each other for roughly ever. I'm pretty sure he came to my first grade birthday, and we went through those awkward years called middle school as pretty good friends. But life, as it does, rolls on, and for the past several years I've been busy, being a mom and growing a business. Meanwhile, Ian's been growing his own very successful career and has kept himself incredibly busy. The upshot is that it had been quite a few years since we'd really connected or had anything beyond our childhood memories to talk about. But I do remember one phone call about 3 years ago, when I told Ian I was just starting to take a Pilates class at the rec center and he said he'd purchased a bike and was getting into bike commuting.

So fast forward 3 years and Ian's become quite an accomplished long-distance cyclist with the absolute ideal strength:weight ratio for hill climbing. He tackled STP in one day and said it was, you know, not too bad, and now he's thinking about taking on the Paris-Brest-Paris. Meanwhile, I'm surprising myself at how much I'm enjoying the constant challenge of crossfit and triathlon. So after our ride yesterday at lunch we talked a little about our rapidly approaching 30th birthday's, and how that landmark year is a bit easier to swallow since we're both in absolutely the best shape of our lives.

It got me thinking: neither of us were exactly athletic in our youth. I leaned towards chunky and hedonistic and Ian, though always extremely lean, didn't have the same long-distance wireyness that he now displays. What compels a couple of book worms to make a physical challenge such an important and (dare I say) cherished part of their lives?

I think for me (and I make it a rule never to speak for Ian) the answer comes in part from having never been an athlete. I never defined myself through athleticism or physical achievements in my youth, focusing instead on academic successes. So my foray into fitness was quite tentative at first. I wasn't "diving back into" something I did in High School. I was dipping my big toe into waters that were a bit foreign, a bit scary (the water analogy in my case is quite apt: swimming terrified me).

But overcoming that fear and working for success in something totally new filled me with a kind of pride that the academic success of my youth just didn't. I was expected to do well in school. It was assumed, and when I did, the success wasn't a particularly big deal. Which is not to say that I didn't occasionally work very hard in school; just that the outcome of that work was never particularly surprising or, to be frank, gratifying.

I remember a particularly challenging spin class. I had pushed myself pretty hard through hill intervals and glanced over at the mirrored wall. I was dripping sweat, half stripped-down to my sports bra, and grinning like a maniac. I just kept thinking - I can't believe I can do this! I can't believe my body can do this. I was ludicrously happy to be able to push my body in a spin class because I knew there was a time my mind would have abandoned the challenge.

I have found, as I grow in my fitness that I continue to run up against things that scare me-- swimming, particularly in a lake or open water situation, terrified me. Overcoming those fears has has a physical but also mental consequence. I now look at almost all any physical skills and think, "you know, with enough time....the right training....I could DO that," instead of, "Who DOES that?" And at the end of the day, it's just really, really fun to keep learning.

Why Triathlon Swimming is Different Than The Pool

One of my favorite videos about Tri, from the good people at Clif.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

55 Miles... (Or: "Yes, I'd love my ass handed to me on a platter, thanks!")

...is a long damn bike ride. My friend Ian (bike riding machine) would not agree. For him, 55 miles is a recovery ride after the 200+ mile Seattle to Portland ride he did in one day last weekend. But for me, bike newbie and climbing wimp that I am, 55 miles was a long ride.

All of my rides thus far have been on flat and fast paved trail rides that top out at around 25 miles, because I pull my kiddo in a trailer behind me when I ride. The trail means no cars, which is an important safety consideration I just won't compromise on when I have my child behind me. The flat is important because with the extra 70 pounds of weight to pull, every tiny uphill gets me up out of the saddle and just brutalizes me.

So I avoid hills and cars, and consequently am not comfortable with either.

Today was the day to push past that, and I knew that only way to get comfortable riding in traffic and push my legs past their comfort zone was to get onto the road, so I went out without the trailer or the kiddo. Luckily, I had a very knowledgeable guide in my friend Ian, who led me through unfamiliar territory and doled out a fair number of bike riding tips along the way.

We met up at the U Village and started off on the Burke-Gilman (familiar territory for any Seattle cyclist), following it north until it transparently joined the Sammamish River Trail (my home turf and definitely the most comfortable portion of the ride for me) at the North end of Lake Washington (paused at Log Boom Park to pee. I mean, ahem, for a comfort stop). At the end of the SRT in Marymoor park we turned south and followed East Lake Sammamish Pkwy along the east side of Lake Sammamish (duh) to Issaquah, where we made our first longer stop, pausing to get a cup of coffee at a little cafe.

At this point the terrain had been pretty non-intimidating: relatively gentle rolling hills, wide shoulders and few cars. In Issaquah the roads got a lot more crowded, and there was a lot more stopping and starting at red lights (a great chance for me to work on clipping and unclipping, but very nearly humiliating on several occasions when I almost fell. But not quite. Ian was really cool through all this traffic, and had me go ahead of him for my safety but yelled out turns, lane changes and such info as I needed to navigate the unfamiliar area.

Once we were safely past the bulk of the town traffic, Ian took the lead again and let us through the wandering residential neighborhoods of lower Cougar Mountain. After some time, we crossed NE 150th and rode SE 36th (a long smooth wonderful downhill) along I-90 to the I-90 trail.

The first part of I-90 heading west was a short-and-steep hill, then a clear and defined path onto Mercer Island. Now, I'm sure once you've ridden I-90 a few times, it becomes totally obvious where the trail is and where one should go, but I would have been lost (literally) without Ian around Mercer Island. It's possible Ian was leading us through a bit more of a residential route than the official trail runs (I honestly don't know) but I was surprised that the trail across Mercer Island seems to be just a road ride without any specific "trail" markings.

Once we were back onto the I-90 bridge, the ride was flat but I found it surprisingly intimidating to ride so close to the water. I knew there was no way I could crash into the lake (there is a fence, after all) but that doesn't mean I didn't have nightmare visions of somehow losing control, catching my front tire between the partition bars and flipping over that fence. The entire bridge portion I was telling myself "just go straight, just go straight, just go straight...."

The end of the I-90 trail off the bridge is a series of short but progressively steeper inclines. There's a mild uphill that (to my tired legs) seemed to go on forever, but was probably only 100 yards or so, then a few series of steeper switchbacks that further burned my quads. Then, with no momentum at all, you turn off the trail and up a vertical cliff of a road. I was in my absolute lowest, granniest gear and made it about half-way up this short incline when I almost fell over and had to bail out and walk my bike up the rest of the hill. I think if I could have gotten a good stand on it, the road wouldn't have been so bad, but I just couldn't stand. When I tried my thighs shook and I fell back into the saddle.

From the top of the hill was a nice series of downhills into Lechi and onto Lake Washington Blvd. This is an area where bikes out-number cars, and most of the cars have loaded bike racks on them anyway, so it's a pretty comfortable area to deal with traffic. Despite the bike friendly and scenic location, I was pretty burned at this point--it was mile 50--and I asked Ian what the end game looked like. I fully expected him to say we had another 20 miles to go (how the geography on that would work out, I do not know), so when he said it was about 5 miles to the end, it was like I had received a personal benediction from the pope. (Ian, that simile's for you.)

From Lake Washington we ascended up a few moderate hills and switchbacks, but the knowledge that the end was in sight made them easier. We joined up with the Lake Washington Loop, a well signed jaunt through residential back roads that kicked us out at the NW end of the Arboretum. We merged onto Mountlake, took an overpass up to the Burke-Gilman, and were back at my car in no time.

All in all, a great first half-century. Ian was a great ride leader, and was really classy about not mocking me when I almost fell over or slowed to 8 and 9 mph on the hills while he was rocking them out at 13 and 14 mph.

I wonder if I could do 100.... ;)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mary Meyer Open Water Swim Workout

Saturday at o-dark-thirty (okay, 7:15--not that bad) D and I jumped into the lake with the advanced swim group that self-selected into the Mary Meyer Open Water Workout. (Briefly, for those who might be considering doing these things, the workout is an almost unsupported 40 minute out-and-back swim that follows the shoreline of Lake Washington. The clinic is a very supported, directed class where you learn more about open water swimming, proper stroke mechanics and participate in a mock ~300 meter open water race. You can read my experience with the Mary Meyer Tri Clinic and Mary Meyer Open Water Clinic here.)

The water was warm, and of the 8 or so people attending, 3 were wearing swimsuits (including D, who really needs a littler suit) and the rest wore wetsuits, so it was about even. The swim leader pointed downshore and said we were going to swim out that way until 7:35, then turn back. So we did. I swam like a pinball; my sighting is so bad I bumbed D several times as we were swimming abreast, and on the return trip I swam into another guy. Sighting is tough for me; I need to get in the pool and work on integrating sighting more fluidly into my stroke. As it is, I feel like I have to choose between a nice rhythmic stroke I can relax into and...um...knowing where I'm going. Bad choice to have to make.

But all in all I felt okay. Not real panicky, though I did switch to an every-two-stroke breathing cycle. I think that was another reason I kept pulling to the side. I got out of the water third or fourth...maybe a minute behind the first person, so a mid-pack finish but one I'm totally happy with at this point.

The soreness of my shoulders and lats after the workout tells me I was inefficient in my stroke and was trying to use my arms to muscle through the intimidation of the open water. Things to work on: sighting; complete body rotation in the water, even with a wetsuit on; follow-through of the stroke; sighting; keeping up a nice mellow two-beat kick even with the wetsuit on; rhythmic breathing incorporated into sighting. And, oh, did I mention sighting?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

That's one way to run errands

Needed to get the drivers side mirror on my car fixed; also needed to be at the optometrist (inside Costco) for an exam and new contacts. The car place and Costco were about 2.5 miles apart, so I dropped off my car and ran to my optometry appointment.

Here's me having successfully having made it to the Costco parking lot.

Running back to the car wasn't so fun: there were a lot more cars along Aurora; it had warmed up; and most significantly I had my pupils dialated for the eye exam. I ran out of Costco (hadn't thought to bring sun glasses) and the first white car I saw was like staring directly at the sun. Before the pain of retinal burn forced me to shield my eyes, it was kinda trippy walking around the parking lot feeling like my brain was about 3 F-Stops overexposed.

About two minutes outside convinced me that I could not safely run back to my car. I would have to keep my eyes pretty much closed, and little good could come of that, so I walked across the parking lot to the Big 5 Sporting Goods and bought a Cookies & Cream Power Bar and a cheap pair of shades. ...Much better!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hit It.

Crossit WOD for Wednesday 080716

Deadlift 5-5-5-5-5 reps
115/135/145/155/165

I'm not doing these right. Not stable enough. Lauren gave me some awesome pointers, but I have yet to implement her advice on heavyish loads. This is a tough exercise for me, especially trying to pull from the floor with tight hamstrings. Need to work on it, though: there's hardly a lift that's more universally applicable. I mean, we need to pick things up off the ground all the time, right?

No cardio yet, hoping to get in a PM run.

Update: I definitely did those deadlifts W-R-O-N-G. Lower back is all sore today, and hamstrings are tight but comfortable...as if to say, "hah hah, you lifted 165 pounds with stabilizer muscles and totally let me off the hook." Bastards.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hit It.

Was trying to play catch up with Crossfit.

AM: Crossfit WOD for Monday 080714
Four rounds for time of:
Run 400 meters
50 Squats
Total Time: About 16 minutes. Would like to see this at about 13 minutes. Ran in my spanky new track shoes for the first time, and man were they great. Kept me up on my toes: the first 50 or 100 meters it felt like I was flying. Then I got a little tired, and as I came down off the front of my toes a bit, their awesomeness lessened but didn't totally go away.PM: Crossfit WOD for Sunday 080713

PM: Crossfit WOD for Sunday 080713
As Rx:
15 Handstand push-ups
1 L Pull-up
13 Handstand push-ups
3 L Pull-ups
11 Handstand push-ups
5 L Pull-ups
9 Handstand push-ups
7 L Pull-ups
7 Handstand push-ups
9 L Pull-ups
5 Handstand push-ups
11 L Pull-ups
3 Handstand push-ups
13 L Pull-ups
1 Handstand push-up
15 L Pull-ups

For time.

Subbed acute angle push-ups with my shins against a smith bar racked high.
Subbed Chin-Ups with feet in L position against smith rar. Grip was tough: my hands weren't around a bar, but around the wide rectangular metal frame of the smith machine, so it was a bit like holding onto a piece of 4x4 lumber.

Total Time: Dunno; felt like maybe 10 or 12 minutes with the mod's. Not too long. I attempted this as Rx and it would have taken me all freakin day. I am not in love with Xfit WODs that are composed entirely of things I cannot do at all, or can only do one of when I'm feeling really fresh and chipper. But I still love you, Crossfit! Kisses!

101 Things About Me

It's a little cyber-narcissistic, but it also seems pretty standard to have a Things About Me list on one's blog.

So here's mine:

101 Things About Me (as of July 15, 2008)

1. I wake up every morning to a caramel soy latte on the bedside table, made by my husband. God I'm lucky.
2. I really do think my daughter is the smartest, most amazing child to have ever lived. God I'm lucky.
3. I am not planning on having another child.
4. I think about having another child, and reserve the right to change my mind about #3.
5. I stopped eating meat and dairy after I read The China Study.
6. Going sorta-vegan was purely a health decision. I do not have an inherent ethical problem with the eating of animals.
7. I have a lot of ethical problems with factory farming and how animals in the U.S. are raised for food. A lot.
8. I still eat a lot of seafood and, very, very occasionally, lamb or duck. I really am the world's worst vegan.
9. For nutritional purposes, I overlook dairy if it's in desserts.
10. For nutritional purposes, I overlook dairy if it's in Indian food.
11. Cutting out cheese and milk wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, but I really miss yogurt.
12. Even though I'm a good mom, I feel really guilty for the amount of time I spend on "me" things: my business, fitness, garden, training, etc...
13. My husband helps out a lot around the house but is not allowed to do laundry except for towels and his underwear.
14. I weigh myself every day. I weigh 155 pounds, and have for over a year.
15. At my heaviest, I was over 260 pounds. But I was pregnant. Not counting my pregnancy, at my heaviest I was around 205 pounds.
16. It took me seven months to lose the first 40 pounds. It took weight training to lose the last ten.
17. When I started eating a plant-based diet, I lost 5 pounds from the increased fiber, if you get what I'm saying.
18. I'm a Chef. I went to culinary school and everything.
19. I currently work as a Personal Chef for several families in the Puget Sound area. This means that, within the limits of my clients preferences, I get to cook whatever strikes my fancy and be my own boss.
20. I love my job and my clients. They are all just awesome.
21. I do not specialize in vegetarian or vegan cooking. None of my clients are vegetarian. All love filet mignon with red wine reduction.
22. I have a six page questionnaire my clients fill out before I cook them anything. According to my survey, 70% of people will list mashed potatoes as their ultimate comfort food. The rest pick pizza.
23. I love pizza.
24. I believe half of all statistics are 100% meaningless.
25. I asked my daughter to describe me and she said, "Hugs and snuggles."
26. I love to garden and grow vegetables. One summer I would like to grow enough food to be self-sufficient. At least for a month. And not including wine.
27. I drink way too much coffee. 4 or 6 cups a day. I'm thinking of cutting back.
28. I recently completed my first triathlon. I freakin' loved it. Now I'm obsessed.
29. I do tend to get obsessed and throw myself into things.
30. I never forward on emails that promise good luck for forwarding or threaten bad luck for not forwarding. So far, it hasn't hurt.
31. I absolutely, positively believe I'm lucky.
32. Sometimes I will forward on really funny videos.
33. I think my abs and shoulders are my best physical attribute.
34. I never do crunches. I do a lot a shoulder presses.
34. I subscribe to Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, Oxygen Magazine and the Crossfit Journal.
35. I never ever thought I would do a marathon, but now I'm thinking about training for one just so I can say I've done one.
36. I like to pretend I've won Powerball and design dream houses in places like Paris and Hawaii and Lake Como.
37. My husband and I have discussed starting an island commune with all our friends.
38. I am very concerned about the food children eat.
39. I believe that if a kid gets to harvest a vegetable, she will almost always eat it.
40. I make my S'more's with two squares of graham cracker, two uniformly toasted golden brown marshmallows and 1/4 of a Hershey Bar.
41. My husband uses 1/2 a Hershey Bar, which I think is excessive. My daughter has been known to use a full Hershey Bar, split into two, in lieu of graham crackers. I think this is genius.
42. I love camping, and not just for the S'mores.
43. At the beginning of 2008, I could not swim. I'm not exaggerating: 50 yards in a pool almost killed me.
44. I taught myself to swim from a book. For three months I didn't take a full stroke, I only did drills.
45. I now regularly swim a a half-mile to a mile for my swim workouts. And I really like it.
46. I would never have learned how to swim if my best friend hadn't goaded me into signing up for the Danskin Triathlon. She was right.
47. I graduated from college a month after I turned 19.
48. When I was 16, I lived in Japan for almost 4 months.
49. I traveled by myself to Tokyo, got homesick, saw the movie Pocahontas in the theater because it was the only film in English, and was the only person to laugh at the jokes.
50. Diabetes and obesity runs in my family.
51. I don't believe genetics is an excuse not to take care of myself.
52. I envy people who have a legitimately healthy relationship with food. Like the Italians.
53. I like to deep-clean my stove, organize things, and use the crevice tool on my vacuum.
54. I hate doing dishes, making the bed, and folding laundry.
55. When I was a kid I was in the local paper advertising a belly-flop contest at the local pool.
56. Almost every piece of art hanging in my house is something I painted.
57. I consider myself artistic.
58. I do not consider myself musical.
59. I don't have very many close friends.
60. I seem to know a lot of people.
61. I am really picky about my chocolate, but I love banana laffy taffy's.
62. We used to own three cats. On my daughter's fourth birthday, one of them passed away. We found him curled up by the front door. After a proper burial in the backyard, I asked my daughter if she was okay, and she said, "It's okay, mom, we have two more cats."
63. I wasn't sure what to make of that.
64. I am a Taurus, but do not drive one.
65. In the summer, I could live on Taco Del Mar Vegan Burritos, Spicy Tuna Rolls and cold beer.
66. In the winter, I could live on stew and roasted root vegetables and cioppino and tea.
67. I have traveled to Iceland, Russia, Norway, Sweden, UK, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Japan.
68. In 2003, My husband and I organized (and payed for!) a four month long adventure tour in South America. We were to fly into Quito (Equador), spend a week or so in the Galapagos Islands, then bus/hike/bike/fly/taxi along the Western-ish side of S. America until we got to Tiera del Fuego. From there we were heading north through the Patagonia region of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Three days before we were to get our travel immunizations we found out I was pregnant, and had to cancel the trip.
69. I drag my husband into adventures and he's usually happy I do.
70. Cases in point: traveling through Europe; parenthood.
70. My best friend drags me into adventures and I'm usually happy she does.
71. Cases in point: I tried out for The Amazing Race because it was her dream to do so; doing a triathlon.
72: My child drags me into adventures and I'm very nearly always happy she does.
73: Case in point: running through sprinklers instead of weeding; going to the park instead of the grocery store.
74. I have every Billy Joel album ever released. Until he went classical. I don't have those.
75. Reading "Love and Logic" made me a better parent.
76. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who will ever read this list.
77. I'm competitive. Mostly with myself, but not completely.
78. I live in the same town where I grew up.
79. I love reading.
80. I don't read nearly enough.
81. I consider myself a good friend.
82. I consider myself lucky to have the friends that I do.
83. Every ten years, whether we need it or not, I fight with my best friend.
84. I consider myself a good wife.
85. I consider myself blessed to have the husband that I do.
86. I fight with my husband, but it's not too often, and we usually fight fair.
87. I buy organic veggies but regular laundry detergent. That eco stuff doesn't work as well as Tide.
88. I consider myself somewhat of a sell-out for recently hiring a yard maintenance service to mow and edge and weed. But I think it might be the smartest thing I've ever spent money on.
89. I didn't have health insurance when I got pregnant.
90. Things that seemed very reasonable five years ago now seem really irresponsible.
91. I hate it when wives bitch about their husbands just to have something to bitch about.
92. Sometimes I bitch about my husband.
93. I think I could be a decent writer, but I don't have the discipline for it.
94. Sometimes when I am working out really hard, I smile because I'm so pleasantly surprised to have a body that can do whatever it is I'm doing.
95. I used to really really love barbecued brisket.
96. Part of me always will.
97. One day we took our daughter to a restaurant and she ordered mac & cheese. The server told her that the mac & cheese came with grapes, chips and an oreo. My daughter looked at the server and asked, "what's an oreo?" This was one of the proudest moments I've had as a parent.
98. There are 13 happy houseplants in my living room. People have said I have a green thumb, but I just think it's just easy to grow houseplants when you have a lot of south-facing windows.
99. My 30th birthday is about 10 months away. I'm sort-of looking forward to it.
100. I'm becoming more and more like my mother. But it's cool.
101. It's taken me an entire day to put this list together.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mary Meyer Tri & Open Water Clinic




In preparation for the Danskin, D and I attended the early morning tri and open water swim clinics put on by Mary Meyer Life Fitness. We first heard about MM early in our Tri adventure, when some more experienced tri-friends said "definitely go to these clinics." So we checked Mary Meyer herself out at a totally free REI seminar she gives on triathlon tips.

First of all, ANYONE in the Seattle area who is considering doing a tri for the first time should go to MM's free seminar. 1) It's free. 2) It's extremely helpful. 3) Tons of those newbie questions your a tiny bit afraid to ask (like, um, dude--what the hell do I wear?) get answered with awesome humor and candor. 4) You get exposed to Mary Meyer, who is so cool I am now sporting a major girl crush on her. 5) It's free.

After you go to the seminar you will very likely sign up for some of MM's clinics. D and I each bought the First Timer's Package: a punch-card good for one each of the Tri Clinic, Open Water Clinic and Pool Clinic, plus Two Clinics of Our Choice.

I will admit that the panicked need I felt to attend these clinics had faded somewhat since actually participating in the 5 Mile Lake Tri, but I was still exceited for the tips and tricks. So yesterday morning, at 'o-dark-thirty, I roused myself and put together my entire tri kit. All of it: wetsuit, hydration, bike, helmet, more pairs of shoes than I normally take on a European vacation...and swung by D's place to pick her up.

I don't know what it is about D. I think maybe she drove too fast past some Bayou swamp one time and a Voodoo practitioner cursed her tires forevermore. Or maybe it's that she habitually under-inflates. Dunno. In any event, in the past three weeks she's popped a bike tube and one of her car tires. So I get to D's place and as she's rolling her very nice, three-month-old bike out of her house to load onto my bike rack the side wall of her rear tire explodes. Note that she wasn't riding the bike, she was rolling it. For like 20 feet. We examined the tire and the side wall had a 3/8", triangle-shaped tear in it, like maybe a nail had snagged the tire and pulled a hunk back.

So we navigate our way along Lake Washington Blvd through the bicycling hoards starting their first few hours of the STP! (Go guys! You rock!) D says we should do the STP next year. Um, only if she makes amends to the Voodoo practitioner.

We get to the tri clinic and learn how to set up our transition area, then prepare for the swim. Speedy Reedy was there letting people trial wetsuits, and D wriggled into a full suit (and hated it!). We divided up into groups based on ability, and D and I self selected into the advanced group.

We waded out into the lake and swam two at a time towards our group's two swim instructors. When we reached her she gave us each a few words. My word was follow-through. After we had all completed our swim, the swim instructors went through the words. Those of us who had follow-through issues were told to make sure we completed our stroke by extending our hand all the way back to our hip. Apparently I was cutting my stroke off at the end. I think I was doing this because I am trying to concentrate on front-quadrant stroke mechanics, and after my arm gets past my shoulder I want to get it back up front as quickly as possible. But the reality is that cutting the stroke off is just shortening my "glide" time and increasing my stroke rate, both things I don't want. So it was a very helpful observation.

After our semi-individual swim assessment, we swam out to a floating pier and worked on group starts, rounding buoys and pacing. Then it was time to swim in and move to biking. I swam in until I was literally grabbing silt and sand at the bottom of the lake, then stood up. I was told I could have swam in 4 or 5 more feet. Shit! Okay, have to work on that.

Then the bike...oh the bike. Well, due to her flat tire, D was stuck with the beginners group for work on shifting, mounting, dismounting, etc. I strongly considered joining her because, although I am physically pretty solid on the bike, I shift the wrong way all the time and don't have a really solid feel for starts and stops. Other options were the intermediate group, with a flat ride, and the advanced group for hill climbing technique. I have flat's down (pedal!), so I was interested in either technique with beginners or hill climbing with advanced.

D told me to go ahead and go with the hill group, so I joined that group. As I rode up I said, "I don't know if I'm advanced yet, but I'd like to try the hill work." And then I fell over. Yup. I fell over, bike on top of me, right next to the hot Asian chick with the Cervelo P2. Mildly ego bruising. And knee bruising. It was the exact same thing that happened after the ride with my sister: I had my right foot out of my clips, ready to put my foot down as I stopped, and as I slowed my bike....slowly...tipped...to...the...left. The side where I was very much still clipped in and basically helpless. Lesson learned: unclip BOTH sides before I even begin to slow down.

A girl behind me did make me feel much better when, 30 seconds later, she also fell over. And we were the "advanced" group. Heh.

The ride itself wasn't much better. After describing our course, our bike leader took off. I was behind a gal in a green jersey. I followed her up Lk Wa Blvd, with other people following me, until it became clear that we were no longer following anyone but each other. Our leader was long gone, and we had missed a turn somewhere. Our second instructor, who had been bringing up the rear took us up a smallish hill, where we rejoined our original leader and half the intermediate group (apparently there was a convergence at some point). It was all very haphazard. So then original leader says, hey, we still have time to get in some hill work. Let's go back up Lk Wa Blvd and head up Madronna.

Then she takes off. Again! I'm determined to stay with her, but by a mile later it's her, a guy with a cool accent and strong riding skills, and me. When I glanced back there was nobody. I'm fairly sure we lost the rest of the group again. So Original Leader waits at a bend in the road and Accent Guy and I continue on. So now I'm following Accent Guy and it's just the two of us, and we eventually do go all the way up Madronna. I don't mind saying: that hill is a bitch. But I made it to the top, which amazes me, looking back on it. I even stayed seated for almost all of it.

And then we come down. A 10 minute up was about a 10 second down, and we get back to the MM Clinic a few minutes late. Everyone who wasn't totally ditched is already there. No one else did the hill. Mary Meyer, please take note...better communication and group management on the bike, please. When some people ride 22 mph native and some ride 13, the group can spread out pretty quick. And many of us don't know the neighborhood.

When I got back, I saw that D had managed to fall too. She got banged up pretty good, with a monster gash in the palm of her hand. Apparently they were practicing dismounts and she totally stole my moves and ended up with a bike on top of her.

Anyhow, the running portion of the clinic has started when I return from my almost solo bike excursion. We get an overview of proper running technique that sounds very familiar and off we go...a short little flat and then up (wait for it) Madronna Hill. I am really starting to hate this hill. The running doesn't take too long, but I do have the opportunity to talk to the run coach (who is very pleasantly not build like a typical runner: shorter, busier, nicely rounded) who confirms that she's giving people Chi Running technique. (Sidenote: Chi vs. Pose--still trying to figure out which one's for me. I like the whole detached leg feeling I get from Chi, but I also think working on my turnover ala Pose is key to getting my speed up.)

And then, that's that. There may have been some sort of Tri Clinic wrap-up for those people who stayed another 10 minutes; I don't know because for those who are also doing the Open Water Clinic, it was time to move 50 feet to the right and join that group.

The Open Water Clinic was like a sup-ed up version of the Tri Clinic's Swim section. It started with a lecture from Mary Meyer and some of the other coaches. Those who had already attended an Open Water Clinic could skip the lecture and get right to the swimming. The rest of us got an overview of swimming strokes and learned several ways to sight. We also learned how to modify our stroke if it was really choppy or wavy in the lake.

Then we repeated the 2x2 assessment drill, with D and I working rather concertedly to get Mary Meyer as our assessor. (I mentioned my girl crush, right? Don't judge! I'm not cyber stalking her or anything! I just want to be just like her when I grow up.) MM said "entry & follow-through" and later explained that I was continuing to cut off my stroke at the back (damnit!) and was also slapping the water as I came down, rather than cutting through it smoothly. She also said that those of us wearing wetsuits needed to be carful not to swim too flat, as the wetsuit wade it easy to stay really horizontal in the water. Interesting: I thought that it was maybe a good thing that the wetsuit cut down on my body roll, but now I know to keep a strong body rotation component in my stroke, even in a wetsuit. Great tip.

When we swam back to her after the tips, she said I looked very good, so I guess my attempts to slice into the water, put a bit more rotation into it, and reach down to my hip on my stroke made a difference. Yeah! And then we swam out to the floating dock and I was the first one there. Not that it's a race, but yeah--kinda it is a race. So I felt like I really did belong with the advanced swim group and that was a really great feeling.

Aftter some more skill work we all assembled back int he shallows for a 300 yd mock race. We were to swim along the swim area boundry, out to a buoy and back to shore. About half way through I ran into MM. Plowed right into her. She said my stroke looked good but I needed to sight more. Yes, I guess pile driving your would-be swim guru is a sign that one should look up more. Point taken, Mary. I didn't have to fight back panic, but I did have to switch to breathing every two strokes. Something about being out there: even if your not actually panicking, even if physically you're not working that hard, it's reassuring to breathe more often. It seems to be my pattern that I am really calm for about 100-150 yds into a race and then start to lose a bit of that cool. I am hoping that the MM Swim Workouts will help with this.

I came out of the water probably 7th or 8th of maybe 75 or 100 people who were doing the Open Water Clinic, so I felt pretty good about that. D, this time sans wetsuit, was just behind me, and within a few minutes most of the field was stripping off swim caps and making their way to the complementary Clif products and vitamin water. Mini Clif Bars are just the right size; Shot Blocks are like the bastard child of a jell-o shot and a no-doz, and I think I love them.

And then, after several coaches including MM congratulated us on getting out there and doing it, we wrapped up.

All in all, a very helpful session. I would rank the OW Clinic as a bit more helpful than the Tri clinic, but mostly because I already had one tri under my belt. For a total virgin, I think the Tri Clinic would really help lay out the details. I also think that in some ways the tri clinic was tougher than the actual tri. Not physically, of course, but in the sense that it was all the confusing parts without any of the smooth, "okay, now I pedal for an hour" parts that are pretty easy to get your head around and give you the mental time to rehearse your next move. I.e., "When I come into transition I will be totally unclipped, move to the side of the dismount area, and go!"

Strong points include the individual assessment within a large group environment, particularly with the swim. Also extremely good was MM's no-bullshit attitude and emphasis on mastering the head game of racing in general and open water swimming in particular. Direct quote: "If you get out there in the water and you start to panic--and we all do--you have two choices: get over it, or drown." She believes, as do I, that almost everybody can do more than they think they can, but sometimes they have to get out of their own freaking way and do it.

Very well done. I did find the cycling as noted to be a bit disorganized, and would have liked to have seen references/credit given to outside study sources such as the Chi Running they obviously style from. I will very likely take the open water clinic again and/or do an open water workout to continue to get comfortable in open water, but I feel like this was a great start.

Oh, by the way, the folks up the road at Triumph Multisport replaced Ds tire with some super heavy-duty almost unpoppable tire. Here's her hands after getting her tire off to take it into them:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Greenlake, The Lake So Nice I Ran It Twice

Maybe I was feeling guilty about the skipped 10K from yesterdays Crossfit WOD. In any event, this morning I drove to greenlake and ran that biatch twice. Okay, so by the second half of the second lap I was talking walk breaks (5 minute run-30 second walk). So, through most of it gazelle like creatures leaped past me, comfortably chatting away with their running buddies while I cranked up the funk on the iPod to drown out the sound of my own labored breathing. So I thought really hard about turning back for my car as I passed it 1/8th of the way into lap 2. Who care, right? I had to take walk breaks not that long ago for one lap of Greenlake. There will always be faster runners. I did not quit. That's the point, right? Hell yeah that's the point.

So my not-quite-10K time trial came in at 1:01:25, and I'm pleased to say I did not foul: my first lap was 31 minutes (including a brief stop to chat with some obvious triathletes wriggling into wetsuits at the lake edge.) and I finished in just under 62 minutes. The 5.6 miles I ran is almost exactly 9K, actually, so scaling my time I would estimate my current 10K time to be 69 or 70 minutes.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hit It.

Crossfit's WOD was a 10K. How ironic that I went and ran 5 miles yesterday. Skipping that WOD, sorry.

Instead, I swam! Yeah, the pool is my friend again and it feels good to have gotten back in this past week. I warmed up for about 15 minutes, then swam 30 laps in 30 minutes. That's 1200 yards in 30 minutes. (My short-pool is only 20 yds long, so 40 yds per full lap.) 1200 yds in 30 minutes seems like a pretty easy pace, but towards the end I was pushing to make up time, so the last third of the swim was definitely quicker than the first.

After the swim, I met up with my friend Rosemary for a weight workout. She skipped out on the group class to come bang weights with me in the big boy room, and I'm so glad she did! It was really nice to work out with someone again, and RM is quite strong for a cardio junkie. ;)

I did have one "why the hell did I say that?" moments when RM and I were at one end of the weight room pausing between sets of walking lunges. There was a guy-middle age, in good shape--doing bicep curls by swinging his entire back, torso, shoulders and hips into the move. I'm talking about the type of lifting form only a Sports Medicine Doc with a lot of bills to pay could love. So I look up at RM and say "See that? Don't ever do that. He's lifting that weight with his dick. If I put him up against a wall and locked in his elbows he'd have to go down in weight." So I'm pretty sure he heard me, because he gave me a super dirty look. Was is the thing about dick-lifting?

Anyhow, here's what RM and I did:

Superset 12 x 3
Leg Press
Sumo Squat Jump

Superset 12 x 3
Walking Lunge 50 steps
Wide Leg DB Deadlift

Superset 12 x 3
Alternating Chest Press on Med Ball
Elevated Pushups (20 pushups per set)

Superset 12 x 4
Wood Chop Up Cable (2 sets per side)
Wood Chop Down Cable (2 sets per side)

Shoulder Out-and-Around 12 x 3
Bicep 21's 12 x 3

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cardio, Sweet Cardio

Ran five miles in 2 chunks, with a stop in the middle at my girlfriend Deanne's place to watch her kidlets splash in the pool. Fun!

Focused on running form and feel I'm making improvements (strides, if you will) but it's going to take consistent, diligent effort to get up to the place where I'm comfortable with a 10K. In training for the sprint tri, I did multiple workouts at 2 and 3 times race distance in the swim and on the bike. I never ran more than 5K, ever. Never did overdistance training, never pushed my boundries in running. Why? Um, I don't like running. I don't feel good at it. I feel like if I push myself really really hard fr a very long time I might still not feel good at it, and that nags at me.

But then I remind myself that I used to be unable to swim two laps. I taught myself to be comfortable in the water, learned how to swim, and now I really like it. If I can learn to like swimming and can feel confident and competent in that skill, then I can learn just about anything. Maybe even how to run.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hit It.

AM: 1+ hour rock climb with K-Lo. This was a tough workout. I had jello-arms at the end, but it was so damn fun!


Here's K-Lo. She was really great at bouldering, and showed me a few moves. Definitely a fun (and slightly scary) way to totally burn out your entire upper body.


Hanging on with all I had. K-Lo's lessons really helped, but by the time I started to figure out the mental side of it a tiny bit, the physical side was just done.


Less blurry pic of me on the same stretch of wall.


PM: 600 yd swim, then:

Crossfit WOD "Angie":
100 Pull-ups (Band Assisted; tore hand @ 85.)
100 Push-ups
100 Sit-ups (50 unanchored; 50 anchored)
100 Squats (butt to medball)

Time: 33:23

Just like the Fran from July 5, the thing that killed me here were the pullups. Okay, the pushups weren't great either, but the pullups are just so slow. And I even used a band assist! But hell, I did it and I have a benchmark now.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hit It.

Cardio: 4 x 400 meter repeats @ 8:13-9:40 per 400. Hard to get a totally accurate number because I switched lanes mid way through set 3 and said hi to my swim buddy for set 4. If I want to be a "real" triathlete, do I have to start taking these "sets" and "sessions" and whatnot more seriously?

My comfort pace seems to be a bit over 2 minutes per 100. If I can get to the point where I can sustain a 2 minute/100 meter pace over a solid mile, so I'm swimming an open water mile in 32-35 minutes, I'll be very happy with that.

Crossfit WOD from Sunday 08/07/08:

As Rx:

155 pound Squat Clean and Jerk, 30 reps

The barbell goes from ground to overhead, passing through a front squat in which the crease of the hip passes below the height of the kneecap. The finish position is with the arms, hips and knees fully extended, arms overhead, with at least a portion of the ear visible in front of the arm. Dropping the barbell is acceptable.


As Performed:
65 pound Squat Clean and Jerk, 15 reps
75 pound Squat Clean and Jerk, 15 reps

Felt okay about this workout...it didn't kill me, so I think I modified the weight too low...will definitely try with 85 next time. I also feel like I'm not quite getting under the bar quickly enough. The drop to full squat was correct on maybe 10 reps. The rest I don't think I went deep enough.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Goals & Weight

In an old post, I think I talked about some of my fun fitness goals now that my weight and body composition is more or less where I want it. Josh Hillis talks about how women can strive for a certain weight or fat percentage for so long that when they actually achieve it it's hard to be done. The temptation is to keep going: to get leaner and leaner.

But unless you are literally a world class athlete or a woman in active preparation for a body building competition, there is very little reason to maintain a sub-16ish% body fat percentage (and for most of us, very little hope of that anyway). Josh says, and I'm paraphrasing here, that below about 17% body fat, most women will start to lose their "womanliness." This is where your personal ethicist come into play. I like a sporty, well muscled look on me and on women in general, but hold short of liking that ultra lean body builder look. I should note that I also don't really care for the willowy distance runner look, but that doesn't mean I don't covet the skills of both the body builder and the marathoner.

Whatever your personal ideal "look" is, once you've gotten down to a healthy, strong body composition and have maintained that for awhile, what's next? Unless you are going into competition, most women are not well served by trying to strip off every bit of body fat, but if you've caught the fitness bug you still want to keep pushing yourself.

And this is when it gets fun. When you're not thinking about how your diet and exercise will effect how you look and you start thinking in terms of what you can do with your body. Small successes build confidence and allow you to try things that you never imagined possible. My first small step into athleticism was a very intro-level pilates class at the rec center. Now I'm eagerly scanning MultiSport Washington for Sprint and International Distance Tris and even contemplating things I've sworn million times I'd never do: marathons, IM distance tris, long distance open water swimming....

In the gym my goals have changed too. I don't care if I ever weigh 150 pounds. Honestly, at this point I wouldn't want to lose the muscle mass to make it happen. I do know I want to be able to perform 10 strict pull-ups and 10 kip pull-ups. I'm working on single-arm push-ups and handstand push-up. I want to squat my body weight (155 lb.--I'm at a 135# squat, so this is definitely in sight) and deadlift 1.5x times my bodyweight. Way out there--way, way out on the horizon--I'm wondering if one day I might be able to do a single muscle up.

I don't always know what fitness or life obsession I'm going to fall into next, but I do know that when you start setting goals to push yourself instead of a goal to shrink yourself, fitness gets a hell of a lot more fun.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fitness Around the House (Part Two)

We can give the upper body a good workout at home, too--no gym bicep curls required!

Kiddo Push-Ups: when I'm feeling really good I can get 4, maybe 5 of these before I collapse, so I often drop to my knees before my form totally goes to hell. Another great exercise to build strength slowly as your child grows. I used to be able to do 4 or 5 when my daughter was 5 or 10 pounds lighter, so even if my reps haven't increased my workload has.
video


Laundry Basket Bent Over Rows: Why not? Laundry just isn't that fun; might as well bang out a few bent-over rows while I'm moving baskets of dirties around. Jeans and wet towels are the heaviest, but this is still a pretty easy lift.
video

One Arm Countertop Push-Up: One of my "fun" fitness goals is a true one-armed push-up. I'm pretty far from achieving that, but over time I can get there. For now, I modify my working off a raised surface (smith bar at the gym; countertop at home). I adjust the workload with my distance from the surface and the spread of my feet: closer distances and wider stance is easier. Note my daughter doing her own pushups in the background! Awesome!
video

Countertop Tri Dips: The distance between countertops in my kitchen is perfect for tri dips, but any chair or bench would work as well. For the longest time, doing these made me feel like my shoulder was going to jump off my arm in protest, but I think I'm finally built up the stabilization strength to do them right.
video

Hit It.

Crossfit WOD:
In any order, perform the following three workouts:

Three rounds, 21-15- and 9 reps, for time of:
65 pound Thruster
Pull-ups (chest must hit the bar to count)

SubTotal Time: 18 minutes. This was sick. It almost killed me. The thrusters were fine; I could hip snap the bar up, and my final 9 were unbroken. The pullups were impossible. By the last nine I was resting 30 seconds at least between pull-up attempts to get ONE pull up. When I get my pullup ability together, so will my time for this Fran.

5 rounds for time of:
275 pound Deadlifts, 5 reps (185 pounds for women)
10 Burpees (with clap overhead while airborne)

SubTotal Time: DNF. DNS (Did not Start, actually). Not attempted; had friends over and ate chips and drank beer instead. Hell yeah I just said that. Will try to get this component in on Sunday.

Run 1.5 K on a road or track (Actual run: 1.65 km): 9:28

SubTotal Time: Not yet known.

Total time for all three workouts:

Fitness Around the House (Part One)

I was chatting with my friend Frannie, an inspiration of a woman who is on her own fitness journey. Her trainer Lauren was talking about little extras she does to burn off excess energy and get in mini-workouts wherever she is. She mentioned reverse lunges while pumping gas (love it!). I told them about the Sumo Squat with Heel Raise I do while brushing my teeth (a Hesper move). So that got me thinking of all my favorite weirdo workout-y things to do around the house. Here's part one:

Lower Body Around The House Exercises:

Kiddo Squats - Variation #1: On the shoulders. Great way to add a little more difficulty to an air squat. Also a good progressive exercise: as your kiddo grows, you get stronger! I'm up to a 48 lb. 4-year old here!
video

Kiddo Squats - Variation #2: Piggy back style. I think this is harder than on the shoulders, and a great indoor technique for gearing up for hiking/backpacking season.
video

Kiddo Walking Lunges: I love lunges. Excellent strength/power and shaping exercise. As you can see, my helper loves them too--because she gets to be really tall!
video

Sumo Squat Raise with Alternating Heel Raise: The video of this just looked a bit too--um--suggestive, especially when I actually brushed my teeth for demonstration purposes. Hubby exercised his veto power, so I'll add still pics asap. In the meantime, here's a description: hold a static Sumo Squat for two minutes, alternately raising one heel every 30 seconds (the SonicCare beeping will guide you). Do not raise out of squat when switching heels.


It turns out that nothing in the world makes you hold your core in while performing an exercise more than the knowledge that you are being filmed in a sport bra.